Learning about student loans may help students fear them less.
The national student debt in 2017 was $1.48 billion, with 44.2 million students living in the United States that contribute to these numbers, according to Joel Cook, a financial aid coordinator at BYU-Idaho.
These numbers could explain why students fear getting loans, but Rebecca Safier, personal finance writer for Student Loan Hero, said these numbers do not always mean student loans are bad.
A recent survey conducted by Safier revealed that student borrowers have many misconceptions about student loans.
Dakota Griggs, a junior studying mathematics education composite, said student loans are evil.
“Interest rates are not the same from semester to semester,” Griggs said. But he said he is not sure what numbers are right for interest rates.
“Student loans are not bad,” Cook said. “There are smart ways to borrow. We encourage students to avoid student loans when possible, but if they do borrow they should do so responsibly.”
The survey conducted on Jan. 25 focused on one question, “Do you have student loans?”
According to Student Loan Hero, the survey had a sample size of 1,019 adults living in the United States and proved a majority of student borrowers feel somewhat confident about their general knowledge of student loans.
Safier’s research reported the most common misconceptions about students loans are loan repayment, interest rates and student loan forgiveness.
“We discovered that a lot of borrowers were misinformed about how student loan interest works, what repayment plans are available, and what type of loans qualify for forgiveness,” Safier said.
She said the research was conducted with the purpose to figure out what students know and need to know about student loans, hoping to empower them with useful sources.
BYU-I students were asked what they know about student loans.
“I know you take forever to pay loans back, and I don’t want to get into that to be honest,” said Issamar Burdie Moreno, a sophomore studying psychology.
Burdie Moreno said she is trying her best to avoid borrowing money out of fear and stress of paying those loans back to the government.
“Basically, you just borrow money from the school or sometimes from the state and you pay it off when you graduate, or when you are working already on your field of study,” said Daniel Rojas, a sophomore studying accounting.
Rojas said he would borrow money if he could, but as an international student he cannot get a loan.
Safier shares in her recent study these four things students need to know about loans:
– Interest adds up and it is best to start repaying the loan as soon as possible.
-Student loans have to be paid back; research on repayment plans is important.
-Few borrowers actually qualify for student loan forgiveness; it should not be a priority option.
-Student loans affect credit score.
In addition to these four things from Safier’s survey, Cook shared these three things about student loans:
– Students need to remember that loan repayment begins six months after graduating or being enrolled in less than six credits.
– “If a student has used student loans and is planning to go on a mission, the student must work with their loan provider to set up a payment plan or deferment plan while they are away.”
– Default loans can damage a student’s credit, making it harder for them to get financial aid in the future, until the loan is repaid.
Cook said students have to be aware that loans should be used carefully, depending on their financial situation.
Students can visit BYU-I financial aid page for steps on how to receive aid.
The Department of Education also has many resources to help students understand their student loans.